Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

Don’t Trash Your Emotional Health

If you’re anxious or depressed, one way to improve your emotional health is to clear away physical clutter.

Here’s why. Clearing away physical clutter often has the unexpected effect of clearing away emotional clutter.

In fact, organizing your life is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.

Think about it: When things are organized, you spend less time looking for things, reduce overwhelm, do more with less time, make better use of your talents and skills, increase your self-confidence, feel more in control, and make more/spend less money.

But many people experience strong psychological obstacles to a clutter-free environment. I like to refer to these obstacles as “Thought Traps.” Thought Traps are the irrational, automatic thought patterns we all have that cause us to stay stuck and, often, to suffer.

Below are some common Thought Traps that prevent people from clearing away physical clutter. Do you see yourself in any of these thoughts?

  • Perfectionism: “I can’t deal with clutter until my life is completely free of distractions and I have unlimited time.” Translation: I’m afraid of how my life will change if I eliminate my clutter.
  • Should” Beliefs: “I shouldn’t have let things get so out of control.” Translation: It’s easier to blame myself than deal with the reality of the situation.
  • Mental Telepathy: “My mother will be devastated if I throw out all the birthday presents she’s given me for the last ten years.” Translation: I know exactly how my mother feels, and her feelings are more important than mine.
  • Predicting the Future: I need to have extra supplies on hand in case the economy collapses/ my business takes off/ my kids move back home, etc. Translation: I’m filled with dread at the idea of getting rid of things, so I need a plausible excuse to hang onto extra stuff.
  • Negative Focus: I’m a total loser, because my house is such a mess. Translation: My “weaknesses” define me more than my strengths.
  • Assuming Permanence: I’ll never get out from under this mess. Translation: I’m ashamed to ask for help and take steps that will improve my situation.
  • Over-responsibility: It’s my mother’s fault that I’m so disorganized. Translation: I don’t want to take responsibility for my own choices.
  • Black and White Thinking: Successful people are organized; therefore, I am not successful. Translation: Disorganization is my excuse not to try.

These are just some of the thoughts that keep people from taking control of their clutter and their lives. Let me know which ones resonate with you, or if you have others to share.

Once you understand your particular Thought Traps, you can then use my Mood Switch method to replace your illogical thoughts with more realistic ones. This simple process can help you create an effective, lasting solution to clutter and free you from energy-sapping self-criticism.

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